McCARTHY'S LIST by Mary Mackey


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A terribly mannered, self-consciously zany and literary first novel--all about Rinda Sue McCarthy, who was born in Indianapolis the day the Hiroshima bomb was dropped. Rinda Sue goes to Radcliffe, marries a louse, but inherits his family's fortune. So why then do we find her, at the start of the novel, waiting for sun-up and a firing squad that will shoot her for the crime of killing an old lady in Cabrito, Mexico--someone she did not kill? And how about the five people she did kill, whom no one seems to give a fig for? And what about the contract that's out on her head by Rose la Rose and the female ""Mafio?"" Well, Rinda Sue's problems all seem to hark back to her crazy grandma--who was a maniacally fervent fan of Senator Joe McCarthy (no relation). We learn about this, and much more, in a miscellaneous, precious narrative--throughout which Mackey loudly and proudly reminds us how she's ignoring Aristotle's famous unities; she also imagines that characters from classic literature are forever urging her on to write the story one way or another. This show-offy cuteness is a big problem, as is Mackey's manic juggling of two or three kinds of book, any one of which might have been modestly funny and trenchant. It's as if this first-novelist read Irving's The World According to Garp and decided to create something similar, without realizing that sort of razzle-dazzle is harder than it looks (Irving has been writing fiction for more than a decade); next time Mackey should try to take things one step at a time.

Pub Date: Aug. 24th, 1979
Publisher: Doubleday